Monday, October 5, 2020

A schooling show with Leo

While I know a lot of folks are frustrated at having to put their showing on hold for at least part of this year, I've actually enjoyed having no pressure to do anything other than have fun with ponies. This has made my riding kind of sporadic, but it's also given me the time to really pick apart things and slowly build up our skills. I've spent a lot of time working on my biomechanical issues - which, let's be real, those will be forever a work in progress. While I haven't been at all rushed, Leo's training has come along quickly, which I find kind of surprising given my lack of focus. 

Unfortunately, the lack of focus and show goals has left us with some odd holes in his training. He does a brilliant walk pirouette, but our trot leg yield is sketchy at best. His walk/canter is really coming along (I set him up correctly obvs) but the canter/walk is more like a sliding stop because we've never quite gotten over that "big whoa" that was installed during his first 60 days with a cowboy. 

Anywho, our local GMO has started holding schooling shows again, and I had a bit of an itch to do something, so I signed us up. Due to aforementioned training holes, the question was... which tests? 1-3 was doable (with questionable leg yields), but it has SO MUCH CANTERING in it. Leo isn't in the best of shape, plus he's a hairy yak and I knew it would be in the 90s during the show, so getting through 1-3 seemed like a big ask. We did a fairly respectable rendition of 2-1 the weekend before the show, and it's a much shorter test, so I opted to go with that.

The show was run well as usual (our GMO is AWESOME!), and people mostly followed the mask and distancing mandates. We kept our masks on and showed out of the trailer, so we had no contact with anyone other than waving to a few friends. I gotta say, it was so nice to see folks, even if from a distance. I'm a huge introvert by nature, but apparently after 6 months of mostly staying home, even I am desperate for humans!

Sadly, I didn't give us nearly enough time for warmup before our first ride. Leo's been such a solid guy at home, I keep forgetting he's 6 and doesn't have much travel experience, so the 20 minutes I'd allotted for warmup was just not enough. As a result, we went into the first test with him not at all over his back due to tension, so we really struggled. He tried so hard to do all the things, but just couldn't given his level of tension. I've never had a test with so many mistakes (cantered in the medium trot, bolted in the 10 m canter circle, missed 2/3 leads in the w/c departs), but we corrected each one and moved on. 

I have no idea what caused this bolt, but we got it back together within two strides and finished the 10 meter circle blob.

When your mum does a craptastic job of setting up for the canter depart and you somehow miraculously rearrange your legs to get the correct lead.

Our second medium trot was our best one yet! He needs to be more up in front, but he was really allowing his shoulder to come forward, and he stayed super balanced under me. 

Having got the first test out of the way, we had a few rides to reorganize. I worked on more relaxation and lateral work for uphill balance, then sharpened up our transitions a bit. Unfortunately it was quite warm so we were both running out of steam for the second ride, and it showed in the judge's consistent  comments of "needs better uphill balance".  We were both much more relaxed though, and the test was mistake-free. Of course we need better mediums all around, but he's a pro at coming back to collected canter, so that scored well. He also got an 8.0 on his free walk, which I will 100% take.

Reasonably balanced in the counter-canter. Photo used with purchase.

We were pretty tired by the time we got to the final medium trot (and you can see that my face matches my shirt lol), but we did it! Photo used with purchase.

The judge was extremely generous in our first test, in some cases giving us 5s where a 3 or even a 2 probably would have been more appropriate lol. I feel like it should have scored around 57-58%, but it scored a 62%. Our second test was much more consistent but not as uphill, and scored a 65%, which I still felt was quite high. Still, I will happily take those scores and work on areas where I know we can do better.

Overall, it was a really good learning experience for both of us, and a nice low-key way to get back into the show ring. There's another show in October at a different venue, so I hope to go to that as well to get Leo more experience, and to get myself back into the rhythm of competing.  He's a good kid, we just need miles!


  1. Dammit you're making me feel like I should take my horse to a show.

  2. Whoo hoo, sounds like a good learning opportunity/outing 😁

  3. He's so cute! Nice job getting him out there and it looks like you guys are making great progress.

  4. Leo looks amazing! I hope Taryn and the rest of your crew are doing great.